Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Clown Tuesday

Happy Clown "Twos"-Day ...

Here's hoping you can go to sleep tonight without this image burying into your slumber ...

Monday, June 9, 2014

A Little Clown History

Joseph Gimaldi

"Even the people who are supposed to like clowns — children — supposedly don’t. In 2008, a widely reported University of Sheffield, England, survey of 250 children between the ages of four and 16 found that most of the children disliked and even feared images of clowns."

I mentioned previously at the start of this blog that, as these pages bounded along, there would be the occasional light shed as to some of the reasons why clowns could or might cause concern and uneasiness.

And here we go. The Smithsonian's Linda Rodriguez McRobbie wrote an enlightening article about a year ago, The History and Psychology of Clowns Being Scary, that's a pretty interesting read. Her piece does a better job than I could do in summation, delving into not only the history of the characters but some of the mindset and disposition of them as well. From Joseph Gimaldi to Jean-Gaspard Deburau's Pierrot to the Italian opera Pagliacci to Emmett Kelly to John Wayne Gacy and even Bozo and Ronald McDonald, there's a lot to absorb and quickly conclude about these painted entertainers.

Jean-Gaspard Deburau as Pierrot

It's a good article. But the information it contains doesn't shine a good light on clowns as a whole. As a matter of fact, it reinforces the their dark sides.

"Adult clown phobics are unsettled by the clown’s face-paint and the inability to read genuine emotion on a clown’s face, as well as the perception that clowns are able to engage in manic behavior, often without consequences."

Most of the information in the piece I've been aware of for some time. Still, reading it as it is, laid out in one big, informative lump, only underlines and bolsters the misgivings and uncertainty
not to mention out and out fear we exhibit toward clowns.

One of Gacy's portaits of his alter ego "Pogo"

If you didn't trust them before, you certainly will take exception to them after you digest the article. 

Or ... simply take heed of the words of David Kiser, director of talent for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus: 

"... clowns have always had a dark side ..."

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Bud And His (Possibly Demonic) Wooden Clown Puppet

What do you think: Should we just leave this strange looking clown and its owner (?) here and wonder about it a bit?

Hokay ... that's enough wondering.

Now? Let's get to the questions:

  • I assume the gentleman on the left is Bud?
  • And, in so assuming, why does Poopsie have an upside-down crucifix on its forehead?
  • A puppet that's a clown: That's an automatic two strikes against it ... right?

Three questions are plenty for me. I'm certain there are lots more. 

Go ahead ... ask away ...

Monday, June 2, 2014

Silent ... But Still Menacing

Clowns have been around a long, long time. (We'll touch on their history in another post later.)

One of those (in)famous clowns of old is back in the spotlight courtesy of a found series of silent comedy shorts, a
long-missing stock of American films recently rediscovered in Amsterdam of all places. Many of those shorts encompass Max Fleischer's "Out Of The Inkwell" series of cartoons from the early 1920s.

With these films scheduled to be restored and preserved from their nitrate originals, one in particular got the jump as the first to be revamped. Which film got the honor? Fleischer's 1926 cartoon "Koko's Queen" featuring Koko the Clown. As a matter of fact, per the article, it even got showcased at a recent public screening.

Sure ... let's restore some old clown footage. That's just what we need to get June underway.

The reason I bring this up? For the simple fact of the image used in the noted article, a rather eerie shot of the clown.

Regardless of Koko's off center stance in the image, he nevertheless strikes an odd figure. Strangely positioned hands (one of which only contains 3 fingers) are prominently featured. Vertical slits for eyes hide some unknowable demeanor. And that ear-to-ear grin harbors some unsung, seemingly devious motive.

Look at that picture above - what I described is exactly what's jumping out of it. Is it any wonder Koko's "queen" is looking away from him and appears not to want anything whatsoever to do with him?

Which only goes to show: Even silent, the clowns of old held a threat of possible menace.